"Wilsonianism" stems from President Wilson's reformist and idealistic foreign policy goals. Wilson believed that the United States was exceptional among nations. It was there for the duty of the United States to redeem and enlighten the other nations of the world. Wilsonianism describes an open world. Wilson envisioned a world unencumbered by imperialism, war, or revolution. He saw this made possible by tearing down all barriers to trade and democracy. Secret diplomacy, he asserted, must become a policy of the past and public negotiations must take its place. He believed in "self-determination" and expected it to force the collapse of empires. Instead of bloody revolutions, he hoped constitutional procedures would prevail. Programs for disarmament would restrict the ability of nations to wage war or become aggressors. He envisioned that a free market, or "humanized capitalism," would ensure democracy. Along these lines, Wilson upheld John Hay's "Open Door Doctrine" of equal trade and investment and hoped it would reduce the economic competition that led to war. Therefore, Wilson hoped that a peace could be furnished which would be fair and just, ensuring world cooperation and prevention of further aggressions by nations in the future.
Fourteen Points, 1918
Link, Arthur S. The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, XLVII. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984, p. 529.
Clements, Kendrick A. The Presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990.
Written by Kyle Gadbois
May 14, 1999
Copyright 1999 by ThenAgain. All rights reserved.